Monday, July 02, 2007

Residency is a Roller Coaster

T'was the first day of the "new" year.

I went to sleep last Friday a lowly 1st year resident, and woke up Monday still a lowly, but "movin' up in the world" (finally!) 2nd year resident.

You don't get many sleeps like that in a lifetime.


It was a weird day. It was weird that the graduated 3rd years were no longer around. It was weird that the 2nd years are now the seniors. And it is VERY weird that we're supposed to know something more than we knew just a few days ago...


We met the first years this past weekend, and their coming has fully snapped me out of the funk.

Residency, as a wise senior once said, is a roller coaster ride. It's got its highs and it's got plenty of lows, and it has one too many of those scare-you-shitless sudden drops where you're not quite sure what hit you, why you can't even scream, and when the heck the darn drop is gonna end.

And at the end of the day, you wonder why the h*#! you ever set foot on the ride and vow not to be so gullible again.

Which is all fine and dandy, except you're stuck on a three year (or more!) roller coaster ride.

So you either resign yourself to a sorry fate, bemoan the upcoming peaks and troughs (number yet unknown), and become more and more bitter by the day, or you use the quick breathers between the dreaded uphill climbs and the even worse sudden drops to think about how you can make the ride better for those that come after you.

Now, you know that there's no way of changing the ride itself. That would take engineers, and metal-workers, and - let's face it - the ADMINISTRATION.

Won't happen during this three year ride.

But instead of sitting in a roller coaster car with five other people you don't trust, wouldn't it be so much better if you liked the other occupants in the car? After all, ya'll did step into the same shit unwittingly, with (varying degrees of) the same naivete, and while others may not show it, EVERYONE's stomach churns when those drops come around the corner.

As we move up in the "ranks," we have the opportunity to set the tone in the car. If the senior residents take care of everyone, the first years will start out in a supportive environment and hopefully learn by example. You can't change the co-residents who have been around the block and choose to be nasty. But they're gone, or on their way out. And, unlike the ingrained thoughts of some who have gone before, just because YOUR roller coaster ride was from hell and back doesn't mean that the next group has to suffer. In fact, BECAUSE our roller coaster ride was unpleasant means that NO ONE who follows should have to suffer. And since we're not administrators, or engineers, or metal-workers, let's start small. Hopefully, by a benign application of peer pressure, the first years can learn that it's NOT okay to undermine each other. And it's NOT acceptable to stab each other in the back. That, instead, it's much better to take care of each other. After all, they're young, and naive, and impressionable.

Such are the thoughts brewing in the head.

The thought of being able to support the incoming class - to work towards creating an environment where they feel safe - has been very inspiring, and is now one of the main goals for the rest of the year.

Because, since we're all stuck on the same shitty roller coaster ride that is due for scheduled renovation in the year 2090, we might as well support each other and make the best of the three year ride.

Who knows, if we take care of each other, maybe the drops won't be as terrifying. And maybe, the younger ones will be inspired to do the same for those who follow.

Such, is my wish.

photo credit


Anonymous moof said...

WV, as I read this post, it made me understand a bit of what you're going through. {{{ comfort }}}

I really do hope that this gets through to those who need to read it ... and live it.

Also ... it concerns me that it would even need to be said at all.

I believe that you can tell who a person really is by observing that person at home, when he's off guard, and reacting from the gut. When kindness is lacking there, then chances are that the kindness and concern seen in public are nothing but superficial parroting made by shallow or callous individuals.

I have to wonder if people like that really belong in medicine at all. How will they be with patients they find difficult, for whatever reason, later?

Great post, WV. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it.

7:39 AM  
Blogger wandering visitor said...

Hi Moofie,

Thanks for reading.

Residency's not all bad. And most people involved are not bad people. It's just that some have picked up some bad habits along the way. And any sort of medical training program is bound to have difficult to change problem areas.

The arrival of the new residents and our moving up in the program has imparted a sense of empowerment. I've always believed that we have a responsibility to take care of those who work with us. Especially those who have less of a say than we do - from janitors to secretaries, nurses, transcriptionists, medical students. And as as we move up, this includes the younger residents.

There's many things that I'd like to see changed in our program, but a good number of these are out of my control. However, taking care of the people below us, and doing our part to make their experience better, IS within our control.

And I want to us try our best to make it happen.

9:48 PM  

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